A powerful new way to understand global extremism.
About Thieves of State
A former adviser to the Joint Chiefs of Staff explains how government’s oldest problem is its greatest destabilizing force.
Thieves of State argues that corruption is not just a nuisance; it is a major source of geopolitical turmoil. Since the late 1990s, corruption has grown to the point that that some governments now resemble criminal gangs, provoking extreme reactions ranging from revolution to militant puritanical religion. Through intensive firsthand reporting, Sarah Chayes explores the security implications of corruption throughout our world: Afghans returning to the Taliban, Egyptians overthrowing the Mubarak government—but also redesigning Al Qaeda—and Nigerians embracing both evangelical Christianity and Islamist terrorist groups like Boko Haram. The pattern, moreover, pervades history. Canonical political thinkers such as John Locke and Machiavelli, as well as the great medieval Islamic statesman Nizam al-Mulk, all named corruption as a threat to the realm. In a thrilling argument that connects the Protestant Reformation to Al Qaeda, Chayes asserts that we cannot afford not to attack corruption, for it is a cause, and not a result, of global instability.
The world is blowing up. Every day a new blaze seems to ignite: the bloody implosion of Iraq and Syria, the East-West standoff in Ukraine; abducted schoolgirls in northern Nigeria. Is there some thread tying these frightening international security crises together? In a riveting account that weaves history with fast-moving reportage and insider accounts from the Afghanistan war, Sarah Chayes identifies the unexpected link: corruption.